Professor Les Firbank appointed to chair EFSA working group

We are delighted to announce that Professor Les Firbank, Chair in Sustainable Agriculture (School of Biology), has been appointed to chair a European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) working group.

The purpose of the working group is to see whether current EU regulations are fit for purpose when assessing GM insects modified with gene drives. A gene drive is a technique to spread a trait through a population even though there is no selection pressure for it. This can even be used to reduce or eliminate a population. The technique is developing rapidly to control some insect pests of crops such as fruit flies and to control the spread of malaria, and it’s unlikely to be long before requests are submitted to release gene drive insects into the European environment. The European Commission has therefore requested the EFSA to look into this, and Professor Firbank, as an ecologist and member of the EFSA GMO panel with experience of environmental impact assessment, has been asked to lead this work, which will report in 2020.

Congratulations, Professor Firbank!